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IMG_6686Last Sunday, we hosted the MN Adult and Teen Challenge Choir. During the worship service, close to 40 students from the Rochester Center shared inspirational songs and personal stories of their recovery from addiction through the power and forgiveness of God.

I love hosting MN Adult and Teen Challenge at Saint Luke’s. It’s not easy to hear of the hurt each one of the students have brought to themselves and others. And yet, it is so encouraging to hear how Jesus is redeeming the broken lives and healing hurting hearts. Their presentation was also a valuable reminder to me of these four biblical truths about sin:

Sin is Deceptive
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Sin is scoffed at by many. It’s not a big deal they say. But sin always appears smaller than it is. As God reminded Cain in Genesis 4, “Sin is crouching at the door.” Like a predator stalking its prey, sin’s nature is to look initially more harmless than it actually is. And then when it has deceived, sin suddenly attacks and conquers. Don’t be tricked by the initially innocuous or even appealing appearance of sin. Sin only leads to bitterness, destruction, and death.

Sin Enslaves
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
A symptom of sin is the false sense of control it gives to its victims. They think they are still free; they can stop the sin at any time. On student shared how he lived a double life as a high-functioning addict. He thought he could stop at any time but was unable to free himself as he slide down in life to rock bottom. The power of sin grows quickly and those enslaved to sin will find that they soon, “cannot sleep unless they have done wrong” (Proverbs 4:16a). If you think you are in control of your sin, very likely you are already devoted to it. True freedom is only found in Christ.

Wisdom Warns
“Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life” (Proverbs 4:13).
The Bible is full of exhortation for us to turn away from sin and to turn to Christ. In the Scriptures we can learn the horrendous consequences of sin as it devastates families, friendships, and fellowship with God. We hear similar warnings from the students at MN Adult and Teen Challenge. Friends, listen! The wise learn not by experience but by heeding the wisdom God has given us.

Grace Knows No Bounds
“[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
In the gospels we see the grace of Jesus is only withheld from one group of people.  Thieves, prostitutes, criminals, lepers, and gentiles all find forgiveness in Jesus. Who does not find grace? The graceless are those who do not believe they need God’s grace. It is those who think they are healthy who in reality do not find grace. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31–32). Without Jesus we are all addicts to sin. Don’t miss the grace of Jesus by believing that you are not included in the all who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Let us continue to passionately pray for, generously support, and wisely learn from MN Adult and Teen Challenge.

But by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10),
Pastor Aaron

Message preached on Feb. 15th, 2015, by Pastor Aaron Brockmeier.

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“Seeking the Lost” Luke 15

Message preached on Feb. 8th, 2015, by Pastor Aaron Brockmeier

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“The Narrow Door” Luke 13:22-30

 

Message Preached on Feb. 1st., 2015 by Randy Hardy.

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Message 02/01/15

MN Teen Challenge Logo

To share how God is working through Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, their choir will perform at Saint Luke’s at the 10:15AM service on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015. Following the service, a free meal will be served.

Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge is a faith-based residential chemical dependency program for teens and adults with chronic alcohol, drug and other life-controlling problems. The mission of MN Adult and Teen Challenge is to provide rehabilitation for adults and teens whose problems are so serious they can no longer function in social, family, and work settings, and to help them become mentally sound, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, physically well, and spiritually alive.

For more than 25 years, Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge has been restoring hope to teens and adults struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. They are one of the largest, most effective, and most affordable programs in the nation with campuses in Minneapolis, Brainerd,  Duluth, and now Rochester, Minnesota.

Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge offers both a long-term faith based recovery program and a shorter-term licensed treatment program called Life Renewal allowing us to effectively serve individuals with a broad spectrum of addiction issues; from those seeking treatment for the first time, to those who have been struggling with addiction for many years.

Every Sunday, groups of Adult and Teen Challenge residents visit regional churches where they share inspirational songs and personal stories of their recovery from addiction. The choir provides a unique learning environment and plays an integral part in the recovery process as residents truly benefit from giving vocal expression to the life change that they have experienced.

The Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge Choir is known statewide. The choir’s contemporary Gospel and Praise songs will be accompanied by inspiring student stories of their deliverance from addiction by the power and forgiveness of God. Additionally, the students will be available following the service to answer questions about their personal experiences and how their lives have been changed through Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge.

All are invited to attend. You will be inspired by the message of hope brought by the Minnesota Teen Choir.

minnesota-teen-challenge-at-saint-lukes

MN Teen Challenge Logo

This is LOVE

Dear Friend,

Picture from Jeff Nine, of Global Missions Media

Picture from Jeff Nine, of Global Missions Media

Do you read billboards? Billboards communicate what a place offers.

Have you read our church’s billboard yet? Do you know where this sign to the city is? Our billboard is visible wherever we are. People see how we interact with one another within the church and with our community and learn what Saint Luke’s offers. When people see our billboard, my prayer is that people would read one big word  – LOVE. This is what Jesus said will be the distinguishing mark of his followers, their love for one another (John 13:35).

How do we paint our billboard with love? First, we need to define “love” correctly.  1 John teaches us that to understand what love is we must look to God, for God is love (1 John 4:8). The truest definition of love is found in the gospel.  If we want to love accurately, we must look to the gospel first. This is the love of God the Father: He gives up his most treasured possession God the Son so that by faith in the Son we can know the Father. This is love. Knowing that definition of love, allows us to correctly work on our billboard.

When we begin to render our sign, we must be careful to paint not just with a warm and fuzzy  love that merely puts an arm around a person who is struggling and says “I understand what you are going through.”  That is needed, but God’s love is a deeper hue than just an “I understand.” God’s love is a love that provides for our deepest need (to be saved from God’s just wrath). In his love, God doesn’t just empathize. In his love, God sends his son as a propitiation for our sins. We cannot save others, so love always shares the profound beauty of the gospel in words!

We also must cover the billboard with a love for others and not a love for only ourselves. Biblical love is a love that serves the other’s needs. Our description of love is often just what we like. We love our favorite food or fishing in the fall. We love a book. We love what we enjoy. However, biblical love entails giving up our preferences and desires for another. For instance, this is the love demonstrated by a single man that before dating says to a woman, “I will give up my desire in order to do what is best for you by protecting your chastity (sexual purity) in our dating relationship.” Is there something you need to give up to serve your spouse or your children or your neighbors?

Biblical love costs. It will cost us our time, our talent, our treasure, our preferences to work on this billboard. When we truly love, we are forced to the reality that we need to know a greater love in order to pay continually the costs for loving others. When we come to that place, don’t despair in your poverty but rejoice! For we not only have a model of love in Christ, but we also have an unlimited source of this rich love that enables us to give. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). The richness of God’s love allows us to love sacrificially.

On this billboard is a love that not only says “come and see” but there is also a love that goes out and seeks. Friend, have you looked around for people that need to know the love of God that you can demonstrate? Slow down and look around you neighborhood. Introduce yourself to you neighbors. Go talk to the person in the cubical, in the corner of the office. Expect others to come to church to see God’s love, but also go out in the world looking around for others to love.

And finally, this billboard does not just appear out of thin air. We actually have to paint it! Biblical love is a love that does! God the Father did not only plan on demonstrating his love to us. He did! Likewise, do not just talk about showing God’s love. Do it! Act upon your intentions! What do you need to do right now? Is there a phone call that you should make to invite someone over? Is there a card of apology that you need to write? Is there money that is in your bank account that you had intended to give? Is there a friend that you’ve been praying about sharing the gospel with that you need to set up a coffee (or fishing) time to do so?

The world’s greatest billboard has already been painted: “This is Love, God loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins”

Now we are called to be a sign to the world telling them of the offer of God’s great love.

My prayer is that people would see Saint Luke’s billboard and then ultimately God’s.

-Pastor Aaron

Sunday, January 18th, was Sanctity of Life Sunday.1 in 5 end in abortion

I did not enjoy preparing for the message I preached. My dislike of this did not come from fear, for I find my courage to speak on difficult issues from the assurance that the Lord is on my side; therefore, I will not fear (Psalm 118:6). My discomfort about the message came from seeing up-close the pain and death that abortion brings and it being prevalent, accepted, and even celebrated in this nation that I love. However, Christians are called to expose the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11) even when “turning on the light” reveals horrors that cause us to cringe and grieve. So I prepared and preached.

In my message, I shared that abortion is first of all a worldview problem. A worldview is how one views and then interprets the world. The Bible provides us with the only accurate way to understand this world in which we live. Science and observation can reinforce this, but the Bible should be our primary lens to perceive reality.

God’s Word teaches us that every person is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). For that reason alone, human life is precious. Every person, no matter his age or her race has inherent value and dignity. Every life is a precious gift – no one is a mistake, accident, or consequence. Because of this, life is to be nourished and protected.

Why do we feed a baby? She is provided for not because of anything she has done or will do but because she is fearfully and wonderfully made by God in His image! Any view of a person that lessons his or her value because of age, race, chromosome count, or accomplishments contradicts the worldview of God’s Word. It is that simple.

Many will agree with this and yet will still support abortion or the “pro-choice” position. How can they do that? It’s another worldview problem. They view a baby in the womb as somehow not (or less than) human. They justify death by saying that the life taken by abortion was not really a person. A biblical view is that life begins at conception. One of many places that the Scripture teaches that truth is in the book of Luke when we read that John leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:44)!

I’m thankful for the scientific advances that continue to reinforce this biblical truth. For instance, we know now that from conception on, a baby has its very own and unique DNA. We can also look at the breathtaking pictures of a child in the womb and see so clearly how even at an early stage of development the child is observably a child! This should silence almost all abortion arguments. Not one reading this could justify killing a toddler because of the nature of his conception or his present ability. Although recognizing that there are development differences, an accurate worldview equates a baby in the womb with a person. Or as Dr. Suess put it “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” All human beings have rights.

Bonhoeffer QuoteIn the second part of my message, I shared that abortion is also a heart issue. God places special value upon those who cannot provide life-needed resources for themselves – the alien, the disabled, the widow, the orphan, the poor, the child. And God calls his people to care for them. The famous parable that Jesus told of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) emphasizes that we are to be like the Samaritan and “do likewise” by showing compassion to the one who needs help, even if it is a costly inconvenience for us. This parable alone should remove the “pro-choice” position from a Christian’s vocabulary. We cannot say, “just let people make their own choice on this” when that decision leads to the death of a person. Christians have been saved from God’s wrath and hell by faith in Jesus. Those have experienced the compassionate love of Jesus are to demonstrate that in their own lives, rescuing those who are perishing even if it is costly.

Abortion is a horrific truth. Let us grieve that it exists and speak and act to change worldviews and hearts.

May God give us all compassion and courage,

Pastor Aaron

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